President Obama’s use of a mechanical “autopen” to sign the new PATRIOT Act extension from abroad has at least one Republican lawmaker worried about a “dangerous precedent.” According to Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), using a machine to sign legislation could one day bring about a dystopia in which robotic writing utensils are used to enact all manner of phony legislation.
“I thought it was a joke at first, but the President did, in fact, authorize an autopen to sign the Patriot Act extension into law,” Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) said in a statement. “Consider the dangerous precedent this sets. Any number of circumstances could arise in the future where the public could question whether or not the president authorized the use of an autopen. For example, if the president is hospitalized and not fully alert, can a group of aggressive Cabinet members interpret a wink or a squeeze of the hand as approval of an autopen signing? I am very concerned about what this means for future presidential orders, whether they be signing bills into law, military orders, or executive orders.”
The autopen was invented in 1804. Graves looks like he’s 30 years old. When I worked in state politics more than 30 years ago, the governor’s office had an autopen. Safe to say the president had an autopen, too. Safe to say a lot of presidents had an autopen before that. And before the autopen, congressman, they had this thing called a rubber stamp done in the form of the politician’s signature.
Are we really going to go through another round of faux outrage from the GOP? Can’t someone just give them a lifetime supply of smelling salts? I’ve never seen a political party succumb to the vapors as much as these guys do.
- Signature Moment: Lawmaker Protests Use of Autopen to Sign Patriot Bill (blogs.wsj.com)
- Rise of the machines: Autopen puts bill into law, and touches off debate (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- Great Moments in Autopen History [Timelines] (gawker.com)